The holiday season is upon us! This is a busy time at work and in that spirit, I thought I’d present to you my favorite movies of the year so far. Some are still in theatres, but most aren’t. And I still haven’t seen Lincoln yet, but I’ve heard amazing things about it. So many great movies begin coming out around this time of year…here’s the stuff I’ve really liked (in no particular order):
Zoe Kazan’s wonderful little movie about an author whose writer’s block leads him to manifest a character from his writings into real life. Paul Dano and Kazan (who date in real life, I believe) have terrific chemistry and Chris Messina provides terrific support as Dano’s brother.
I’m a sucker for good animated movies. They’re accessible to all ages and have more flexibility to be creative than most traditional films. Wreck-It Ralph fits that mold completely, telling the story of a “bad guy” from the video game Fix-It Felix, Jr., who decides he doesn’t want to be bad anymore. The adventure leads him to “game jump” trying to prove all of the people of his game wrong. Released by Disney Animation under the tutelage of John Lassiter, who was one of the co-creators of Pixar, this movie has all the things that we love about Pixar movies: originality, comedy and heart. The voice characterization of the main characters by John C. Reilly (Ralph) and Sarah Silverman (Vanellope von Schweetz) is nothing short of perfect. I loved this movie. And I haven’t talked to a single person yet who hasn’t felt the same way. Bonus points for the short film that precedes it, Paper Man. Just trust me on that one.
The Dark Knight Rises
There is no doubt that Christopher Nolan revolutionized not just the Batman franchise, but the approach of comic book movies into the future. Batman Begins was the reboot that all of these other comic book reboots have been based on and The Dark Knight Rises is the wonderful conclusion to his epic trilogy.
Ben Affleck has become one of the most talented and sought-after directors in Hollywood. So far, he hasn’t missed a step. Last year’s The Town was one of the best films of the year and should have garnered him his first Academy Award nomination since Good Will Hunting. This year, Affleck tackled a historical film about a CIA mission to get out several embassy workers from Iran in the late 1970′s. Affleck both stars and directs in this taut thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seat the whole movie long. He stays very faithful to the era and gets wonderful supporting performances from John Goodman and Alan Arkin.
Most people either love or hate Wes Anderson movies. He has a very specific style that people either like or dislike. There isn’t a lot in between. I actually kind of fall in between though. I’ve never been a huge fan (for example, I think Rushmore is extremely overrated), but he has his moments. This year’s Moonrise Kingdom was, to me, his best work to date. Creative and quirky, Moonrise Kingdom follows two kids who fall in love during a summer on an island off the coast of New England. The kids who play the main characters are perfectly weird and play their roles well and the adults provide a backdrop that shows people don’t stop being screwed up even into their adult years.
The Perks of Being a Walflower
I read this book way back in 2005. When I heard about the movie adaptation, I was nervous. I really loved the book and I thought it might be difficult to translate to screen. I was comforted by the fact that Stephen Chbosky, who wrote the book, was writing the screenplay and directing. I was not disappointed. Telling the story of a confused teenager named Charlie, Chbosky explores some pretty heavy subject material for teenagers, but gets a wonderful assist from his talented cast, led by Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller. This movie really succeeds in staying true to the challenging nature of the book, but keeping it accessible to many audiences.
It’s difficult for me to write a best-of list without the biggest blockbuster of the year, Marvel’s The Avengers. Anchored by the return of everyone’s favorite billionaire playboy philanthropist Tony Stark, played by the always terrific Robert Downey, Jr., The Avengers was arguably one of the biggest movies of the year, bringing together the last few years of work that Marvel has done with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Hulk. What results is a really big, fun, entertaining ride that pits good vs. evil for the fate of the planet. When it comes to entertainment, I don’t know if there was another movie this year that could eclipse The Avengers.
There’s still a lot of great stuff yet to come this year. I’m looking forward to seeing Lincoln, Life of Pi, The Silver Linings Playbook, Django Unchained, The Hobbit, The Impossible and Promised Land.
So what have your favorite movies of the year been? And what are you most looking forward to seeing this holiday season?